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  Jain Temple in Ranakpur
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BRAHMA TEMPLE OF PUSHKAR IN RAJASTHAN, INDIA


The Brahma temple is an important pilgrim centre for the Hindus. The only standing Hindu temple in India dedicated to Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe, the structure around the temple was built in the 14th century and stands on a high platform near Pushkar lake. Brahma is one of the Holy Trinity in Hinduism, sharing the honour with Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer. Although a very large number of temples can be found all over India dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu, there are very few temples for Brahma, this being one of the holiest one.

It is nestled in the Pushkar valley which lies beyond Nagaparvat and the Anasagar lake. This place, full of natural beauty, holds a special place in the hearts of Indian for it is believed that Lord Brahma, together with all the gods and goddesses, performed a Yagya here. Legend also has it that the ancient lake Sarovar had appeared miraculously in Pushkar.

BRAHMA TEMPLE OF PUSHKAR

Legend of Lord Brahma

The description of pilgrimage places in the Tirtha-Yatra section of India's great epic, the Mahabharata, suggests a grand tour of the entire country. The pilgrimage begins in Pushkar, sacred to the god Brahma, and continues in a rambling clockwise direction throughout the subcontinent, ending in Prayaga (modern day Allahabad). As indicated by Pushkar's position as the starting point of the grand pilgrimage, the worship of Brahma was considered highly important at the end of the first millennium BC.

The common assumption of there being only one temple to Brahma is untrue. There are at least four major temples to him still in use today. They are at Pushkar in Ajmer, Rajasthan; Dudhai in the state of Madhya Pradesh; Khed Brahma in Kerala; and Kodakkal in the Malabar region of Kerala-Karnataka. Today, other deities have long eclipsed the cult of Brahma. It has been suggested that this waning of importance may be attributed to the fact that the function of Brahma - creating the world - has been completed, while Vishnu (the preserver) and Shiva (the destroyer) still have relevance to the continuing order of the universe.

Mythological literature describes Brahma as having sprung up from the lotus originating in the navel of Vishnu. Brahma then becomes the source of all creation, the seed from which issues all space, time and causation. His consort Saraswati was manifested out of him and from their union was born all the creatures of the world. He is the inventor of theatrical art, and music and dance were revealed by him. He is sometimes depicted with four heads representing the four Vedas and the four Yugas (great epochs of time), other times as Visvakarma, the divine architect of the universe. Saraswati is the wife of Brahma. Literally her name means 'the flowing one'. In the Rig Veda she represents a river deity and is connected with fertility and purification. She is considered the personification of all knowledge - arts, sciences, crafts and skills. She is the goddess of the creative impulse, the source of music, beauty and eloquence. Artists, writers and other individuals involved in creative endeavors have for millennia come on pilgrimage to Pushkar to request the inspiration of Brahma and Saraswati. According to the theory that shrine myths are often metaphorical expressions of the specific power of a pilgrimage place, the lake, hill and area of Pushkar have a spirit or presence that awakens and stimulates the human capacity of creativity.

There are five principal temples in Pushkar, all of relatively recent construction since the earlier buildings were destroyed by the Mugal emperor Aurangzeb in the late 17th century. Numerous bathing areas, known as ghats, surround the lake and pilgrims immerse themselves in the holy waters for a cleansing of both body and soul. During most of the year Pushkar is a sleepy little town. Each November, however, over 200,000 people arrive with 50,000 cattle for several days of pilgrimage, horse dealing, camel racing and colorful festivities.

BRAHMA TEMPLE OF PUSHKAR

Birth of Pushkar

It is said that Lord Brahma's lotus flower fell in three separate places in the Pushkar area, and water came from the ground at each place. They are located within a radius of six miles. Senior Pushkar, where the hotels are located, is considered the most holy place, because the lotus fell here first. Middle Pushkar is 3 km down the road and has a small Hanuman temple and a 200-year-old banyan tree. New (Junior) Pushkar, 3 km further north, has a small Krishna temple. As Brahma threw the pushpa (flower) with his kar (hand), so the place received the name Pushkar.

Legend and History of Brahma Temple
 
It is said that while Lord Brahma was passing this spot he dropped a lotus flower. From the spots where the petals fell, water sprang out and lakes were formed. There is a rectangular lake here surrounded by temples. According to the Padma Purana, Brahma, the lord of creation, killed a demon with a lotus flower here. He dropped the lotus at this place to kill the demon. Petals fell in three spots, where lakes emerged.

Brahma wanted to perform a yajna on the full moon day in Kartika (Oct/Nov). Lord Brahma, the creator, was in search of a suitable place to perform the yajna. The lotus from his hand fell down, rebounded, and fell at three places, from where water sprang. Thus Brahma decided to perform the yajna at Pushkar (push-lotus; kar-hand). But the yajna could not take place without his wife, Savitri, by his side, and she was late. Brahma therefore for him, so that he could fulfill the religious obligations. So the priest manifested a daughter called Gayatri. Because she was an untouchable, to purify her, she was put into the mouth of a cow and removed from the other end, which totally purified her. When Savitri arrived, she saw Brahma married without her permission. So she cursed Brahma that he would only be worshiped at Pushkar.

Enraged, Savitri went and established a temple at Rathkagir, on top of the hill a little south of Pushkar. It is said to be due to Savitri's resentment that Brahma is mainly only worshiped at Pushkar.

Brahma Temple

The only temple of its type, the Brahma temple is an important pilgrim centre for the Hindus. The temple is small but an impressive one.

In front of the Brahma temple, two small temple structures are situated.  One is dedicated to Kubera, wealthiest God. Legends say that he donated huge funds to Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala, most popular Devata (God) to people in Southern India who returns the money collected from visitors.  He is one of the eight Devatas called ashta dikpalakas (Hindu Gods) who take care of eight directions in ‘yantra’, temple, house, or of the universe with reference to the point where we are situated. Kubera looks after the North direction. Another small temple like structure is dedicated to Lord Indra. He is head of a ‘Universe exclusively reserved for Devatas called Indra loka (for Hindu Gods) and looks after East direction. Probably they serve as Dwara Palakas (to control the invisible entrants into the temple of Brahma). 

BRAHMA TEMPLE OF PUSHKAR

Marble steps lead up to the temple where a silver turtle lies embossed in the floor facing the sanctorum. The marble floor around the turtle is littered with hundreds of silver coins embedded in the floor, and so are the walls of the temple. An interesting feature is the coins studded in the floor which are placed by devotees to commemorate the births and deaths of their loved ones. Images of the peacock, the vehicle of Brahma’s consort Saraswati, adorn the temple walls. Brahma here is shown in a life-size form with four hands and four faces, facing four different directons, symbolizing his presence everywhere. The image of Brahmaji in Pushkar is in a seated Palthi position. A hans (goose, the official carrier of Brahma) spans the gateway to the temple which is crowned with a red spire. A small statue of the milk goddess Gayatri (whom Brahma married) near Brahma’s idol is called Chaumurti. Steps within the silver-doored sanctuary lead down into a small cave which is a Hindu temple of Lord Shiva.

Other Pilgrimage Attractions in Pushkar

Worth special mention are the temples of Vishnu, Atmeshvara, Gayatri, Savitri and the Raghunath temple in pushkar. There are two Raghunath temples in Pushkar-the old and the new one. The Deities in the New Raghunath Temple are Vaikunthanath and Laksmi. The Deities in the Old Raghunath Temple, build in1823, are Venugopal, Narasimha, and Laksmi.

Mahadeva Temple

This temple was built in the 19th century and is well-known for its white marble image of Mahadeva with five faces. Also praiseworthy is the structure and the incredible ornaments with which the statue is adorned.

Ramavaikunth Temple

In 1920, this temple was built with great taste and delicacy, and is also one of the largest temples in Pushkar. A team of masons from south India were specially called to build the outer gopuram (arch) over the entrance. Another stone gopuram bears beautiful sculpted images of not less than 360 different deities

Varah Temple

The Varah temple is another famous temple of Pushkar. Being built in the 12th century, the Varah Temple was one of the many temples destroyed by Emperor Aurangzeb. It is said that he particularly detested the life-size image of Varah, the god with the head of a wild boar and the body of a man. It houses an image of lord Vishnu in the incarnation of the wild boar. The temples of Brahma and Warah are considered equally important. It is believed that king Anaji Chauhan built the Warah temple. According to mythology it is a very important temple and is believed that Vishnu came on the earth in the incarnation of Warah (wild boar) to kill the demon Hirnayaksh and liberate the land from his atrocities. Later in 1727, it was reconstructed by Raja Sawai Jai Singh of Jaipur. The temple has elegant carvings and sculptures, besides the richly ornamented image house.

Savitri Temple

The Savitri temple is dedicated to Goddess Savitri, Lord Brahma's first wife. It is situated on the hill behind the Bramha Temple, and a long series of steps has to be climbed to reach it. It gives a beautiful panoramic view of the Pushkar lake, and the surrounding sand dune villages. According to a legend, while Bramha was performing a sacred ritual his wife Savitri was not present. Since the presence was essential for the ritual, Bramha hastily married a local maiden, Gayatri. When Savitri heard about this, she flew into a rage and cursed Bramha that he would not be worshipped anywhere accept Pushkar.

Rangji Temple Pushkar

The Rangji temple is very gracious. It is considered very conspicuous, due to its south Indian style of architecture. The temple has a high rising 'Gopuram', typical of southern India.

Nag (Yajna) Hill - A Unique Attraction

It is said to be one of the oldest hills in the world. Its height is said to have been ten crores yojanas in Satya-yuga, ten lakhs yojanas in Treta-yuga, and ten thousand yojanas in Dwapura-yuga. In Kali-yuga its height is decreasing day by day because it is sinking into the earth. By the end of Kali Yuga it will almost disappear. It is said that if you visit this hill on your pilgrimages to Pushkar you will not have any interference or difficulties.

On this hill is Nag Kund. The story of this hill is that Rishi Chyavan cursed Vatu, the grandson of Brahma, to become a snake on the second day of the sacrifice performed by Brahma. Vatu was cursed because at the sacrifice he released a snake that coiled around Bhrigu Muni, the father of Rishi Chyavan. After vatu begged for forgiveness, Brahma blessed him to live near this natural kund (lake) on Nag Hill. Vatu did austerities here. People who worship here on the 5th day in Krishna Paksha of Sravana (July/Aug) are said to get their desires fulfilled. Agastya Muni's residence is said to be a cave on Nag Hill. It is about 2 km from Senior Pushkar. You cross Nag Hill to go from Ajmer to Pushkar.

BRAHMA TEMPLE OF PUSHKAR

Location and Transport

The holy city of Pushkar is also called the city of temples. There are more than 400 hundred temples in Pushkar but the main attraction being the temple of Lord Brahma, the only temple in India dedicated to Brahma. This otherwise sleepy town echoes with hectic activity during the Pushkar Camel Fair and festival.

Air
The closest airport is 131 km away in Jaipur.

Train
The nearest railway station, in Ajmer (10 km), has trains to Jaipur, Delhi, Udaipur, and Ahmedabad. From Ahmedabad you can get a train to Bombay or Dwarka. You can have a travel agent in Pushkar arrange your train a day or two in advance for a Rs. 30 charge, rather than going to Ajmer yourself. The best way to get to Delhi is to catch an overnight train from Ajmer. It is much better than taking an overnight bus, but it takes a little advance planning.

Bus
There are two bus stands in Pushkar-the Marwar bus stand, in the north of town by the post office, which services some long distance places, and the Ajmer bus stand, east of town by the Pushkar Hotel, which has buses to Ajmer and Jaipur. There are regular buses from Pushkar to Ajmer. The buses from Ajmer to Pushkar depart every hour from 6 am to 10 pm from near the Ajmer railway station. 

 

 
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